Robotic Surgery Used to Correct Heart Defect
California Pacific Team Uses daVinci Robot on 25-year old Woman
During a routine doctors visit to prepare for a summer trip to China, 25-year old April Yee learned she had a heart murmur. April, a South San Francisco resident, had recently changed insurance plans, which led to her first visit with California Pacific physician May Yen Yau, M.D. and the heart murmur observation. "For the past few years, I felt that something wasn't quite right with my heart, but I had never been told of a murmur," April explains.
She subsequently underwent an EKG and ultrasound, which revealed abnormal findings. As April learned from Cardiologist Andrew Rosenblatt, she had a congenital abnormality of her coronary artery. This abnormality was a fistula coming from her coronary artery. It was pumping additional blood into and out of April's heart, resulting in extra work and strain on her heart. While the heart defect didn't put April in immediate danger, her doctors recommended that she undergo heart surgery before it became more severe.
"I was referred to Dr. Michael Black for heart surgery and he met with me and my parents, discussing different options," explains April. They decided she would undergo robotic surgery to correct her heart defect in mid-August. If, during surgery, the robotic technique didn't work, he would use other techniques. In the interim, April was able to visit China as planned, returning in late July.
April's surgery occurred on August 17th at California Pacific Medical Center. As she explains, "I was nervous at first, but felt very reassured and comforted by Dr. Black and his team." During the surgery, Dr. Black made four tiny incisions, the size and width of a pencil, on the right side of April's chest. Through these incisions he inserted a tiny camera and instruments to repair the abnormality. Dr. Black manipulated the instruments via the robotic console. In all, her surgery lasted nearly eight hours.
Dr. Black performs robotic surgery
"This procedure was truly enabled by the robot," explains Black, director of California Pacific's Congenital Heart Surgery Program. "We could not have performed such a delicate operation deep within the chest cavity without the micro-maneuvering of the robotic instruments," he adds. Alternative surgical techniques would have included a thorocotomy (an incision between the ribs, which is quite painful) or a limited median sternotomy (incision in the front).
Two days after her heart surgery, April left the hospital. This recovery rate is significantly better than if she had had open heart surgery, which would have resulted in a lengthier hospital stay and recovery. Other than some muscle spasms in her back resulting from the time she spent lying down in the hospital, April says she feels better every day. As she explains, "My chest and breathing feel more free now, so I can tell there's a difference. I can't wait until I'm 100% healed and get to experience the full benefits of Dr. Black's surgery and my newly fixed heart!" Dr. Black adds, "The congenital heart program at California Pacific looks forward to helping other patients experience the benefits of less invasive surgery."
Read more about Dr. Michael Black.
Read more about Minimally Invasive Surgery for Congenital Heart Surgery.